Exploring Kansas City Chiefs range of options for pass rushing help

Robert Quinn. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
Robert Quinn. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) /
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What exactly are the choices in front of Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach for more pass-rushing help?

As training camp comes into view for the Kansas City Chiefs, the 90-man roster looks largely set at most position groups. Throughout the spring and summer, the Chiefs have submitted transactions ranging from seismic changes to slight alterations here, there, and everywhere in order to find a competitive and talented group at each position to take to camp. Yet the one glaring need—the one that’s been discussed again and again, even here—is at defensive end.

At the present moment, the Chiefs seem to be playing with fire when it comes to the collection of players ready to compete at edge rusher. There are questions of readiness and impact, inconsistency and depth. What was already a sore spot last season was left largely untouched, save for the first-round investment of George Karlaftis, and it seems hard to believe the Chiefs will stand pat until the start of the season.

At this point, Frank Clark is a presumed starter on one side despite the worries about his ability to provide a reliable pass rush for a 17-game season. On the other side is Karlaftis, who will be asked for productive reps earlier than others in his draft class. Behind them are younger players who could grow into something more, but given the rigors and realities of the NFL calendar, it’s hard to believe general manager Brett Veach is leaning on optimistic takes winning out for so many players.

So what are the Chiefs to do? Various possibilities have been discussed, but let’s lay out the range of options for the Chiefs’ front office to consider as they prepare to go to St. Joseph for camp at the end of the month.

Major trade for a starter

The name you hear mentioned most in conjunction with a deal with the Chiefs is Robert Quinn of the Chicago Bears and there are very good reasons for that. However, a deal isn’t so cut-and-dry as fans want to make it; it all depends on the competition and trust of the front office in Quinn’s future.

Quinn was second in the NFL last season with 18.5 sacks, which looks sexy for a team whose leader (Chris Jones in ’21) had less than half of that a year ago. Detractors want to point out that many of those sacks were opportunistic and other metrics deflate the stock a bit, but what remains true is that even into his late thirties, Quinn is a solid finisher on the edge—which the Chiefs could use for the next year.

The other reasons to like a deal for Quinn on the part of the Chiefs include a rather amenable contract that would fit pretty comfortably into the team’s financial picture—not to mention the ability to keep Quinn around on non-guaranteed option years through 2024. Think of the future there with Quinn and Karlaftis on the roster going into next offseason. That could keep the Chiefs from forcing anything on the open market. The final piece of the puzzle is that Ryan Poles, the Bears’ general manager, is a product of K.C. and relational lines should keep communication strong here.

The Chiefs, however, are not the only team in the hunt for pass-rushing help even at this stage of the offseason, and Poles got into his role for good reason. He’s sitting on a solid asset and isn’t going to give an “old friends” discount to the Chiefs anytime soon. Does Veach want to pay a Day 2 pick (or even two) to get Quinn? And what happens if this is the year that Quinn hits the wall? That’d be a tough pill to swallow if Quinn has little left and the Chiefs just paid several years of cost-controlled talent to get him.

A minor note here should also include that Quinn isn’t the only “major” trade to potentially be made here. The midseason trade deadline will turn several more teams into sellers than what is available for now. At the present moment, however, Quinn is about it on the edges that would qualify as a major acquisition. If the Chiefs wanted to deal for further interior help, we’ve also discussed Daron Payne around these parts in the past.